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Munaf v. Geren/Geren v. Omar

Docket No. Op. Below Argument Opinion Vote Author Term
06-1666 D.C. Cir. Mar 25, 2008 Jun 12, 2008 9-0 Roberts OT 2007

Holding: (1) The habeas statute extends to American citizens held overseas by American forces operating subject to an American chain of command. The government's argument that the federal courts lack jurisdiction over the detainees' habeas petitions in such circumstances because the American forces holding Shawqi Omar and Mohammad Munaf operate as part of a multinational force is rejected. The habeas statute, 28 U. S. C. ยง 2241(c)(1), applies to persons held "in custody under or by color of the authority of the United States." The disjunctive "or" in Section 2241(c)(1) makes clear that actual government custody suffices for jurisdiction, even if that custody could be viewed as "under . . . color of" another authority, such as the Multinational Force-Iraq. (2) Federal district courts, however, may not exercise their habeas jurisdiction to enjoin the United States from transferring individuals alleged to have committed crimes and detained within the territory of a foreign sovereign to that sovereign for criminal prosecution. Because Omar and Munaf state no claim in their habeas petitions for which relief can be granted, their habeas petitions should have been promptly dismissed, and no injunction should have been entered.

Judgment: Vacated and remanded, 9-0, in an opinion by Chief Justice John Roberts on June 12, 2008. Justice Souter filed a concurring opinion, in which Justices Ginsburg and Breyer joined.

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